10 years ago Drew Bledsoe was trying to scramble for a first down and decided to lower his shoulder to get the first down instead of sliding or running out of bounds. Unfortunately for him, Jets linebacker Mo Lewis had him lined up for a hit and absolutely destroyed him. The hit sheared a vein in his chest, causing his lung to fill with blood and then collapse. Little known backup Tom Brady entered the game and had no effect on the game, going 5 for 10 with 46 yards. When news got out that Franchise QB Bledsoe was probably done for the year, and looking at Brady’s poor play, Jets fans celebrated.
Unfortunately hindsight is 20/20, Brady ended up being the perfect QB for what Belichick was trying to do. Instead of having to corral a gunslinger QB like Bledsoe, Belichick instead was able to mold Brady into a possession QB who wouldn’t cost them the game. The Defense and the running game would win games, with Brady doing the minimal amount of damage to the team to allow them to win.
There are those that claim that Brady was the QB of the future or that Belichick would have replaced Bledsoe, but I don’t see either happening. Bledsoe had just signed a record setting 10 year 103 million dollar contract. Even after Brady won the Super Bowl there was still a debate in Foxboro over who to trade, Brady or Bledsoe. I also don’t see the Krafts giving Belichick power to dump Bledsoe. Up to that point in his head coaching career Belichick was anything but a genius, in 6 seasons for the Browns and Pats he only had 1 winning season.
Was Belichick going to be successful with Bledsoe at QB? Most likely not. He had already lead the team with Bledsoe at QB to a 5-11 season, and was off to a 0-2 start. Mo Lewis knocking out Bledsoe was the greatest gift he was ever handed. Otherwise he was going to have to find a way to win with Bledsoe at QB, and over 18 games he really hadn’t figured out how to.
New England should hang Mo Lewis’ Jersey somewhere, or retire his number. Without his absolute crushing hit on Bledsoe, the Pats probably struggle through the last decade. They probably don’t get anywhere near the Super Bowl while Tom Brady disappears into the UFL, XFL or AFL and Belichick goes crawling back to Parcells again in Dallas or Miami. Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel continue to be non-entities in the football world (much like they are today) instead of destroying Notre Dame and Cleveland. Randy Moss gets traded to the Packers and Favre wins his last Super Bowl with Moss on the Pack and retires on the first try. The Red Sox never win the World Series, well because if I’m coming up with an alternate history the Sox never win the series. Let’s not forget that Mangin and McDaniels never get a chance to setup their pretend Belichick regimes in NYC and Denver.
It’s a wonderful world to wake up in, and it all would probably be true if not for Mo Lewis destroying Bledsoe with what should be one of the most infamous hits in Jets/Pats history. So if your a fan of the Patriots you should thank a Jets fan this week. Without the Jets you probably are fighting the Bills for the AFC basement this last decade.
I just don’t see how something that just flat out prints money could possibly be held up by a labor lockout. The real problems that the owners seem to be arguing about are problems between the owners. The teams purposely taking advantage of the revenue sharing so they can make more money. That is much more of an owner issue then anything having to do with the players. The other issue is one that the NFLPA is more then willing to come to terms about, the insane contracts being handed out to rookies (Matthew Stafford is currently making more then Tom Brady).
Another issue should be a non-issue. The 18 game season is one that both the fans and players don’t want to happen. Yes, there are a few people who are saying that an 18 game season means more games, but most fans I talk to seem against it. To us it feels like the owners trying to make even more money off the fans with pointless end of the season games while fans get to see 2nd and 3rd stringers later in the season at full price because the starters are hurt or resting. Sounds like a great tradeoff of getting rid of the two pre-season games.
This really shouldn’t be that hard to fix, and hell if I was the owners I probably would have just kept the current CBA in place. They are like I said, flat out printing money. Football has easily bypassed Baseball as the national past time. The NFL is also by far the most competitive of all the leagues. When you’ve been doing everything right for so long, why are you going to decide to rock the boat?
The worst part is that it’s not these millionaires and billionaires that are going to be hurt the most. They are going to be fine. It’s the regular fan who is once again going to be pushed out of buying season tickets. It’s the regular fan who is going to most likely see Tickets continue to rise in prices, Personal Seating Licenses taking hold across the league. Whichever way the possible lockout goes, it’s going to be the fan left holding the bill. Between the possibility of a lockout and the NFL more and more losing touch with it’s average fan, it might not be long before the reign of Football as America’s new past time is remembered for being so short lived.
So wise up NFL. Before TV companies were offering you billion dollar deals, it was the fans who carried you into greatness. It doesn’t matter how many tiger beat magazine covers your face of the league gets on or how many commercials your other favorite QB gets, if fans stop watching the money stops flowing. You can think the average fan is an open wallet for you, as you gouge us on not just ticket prices, but merchandise, concession stands and even parking. You can only push people so far before they will revolt, and a lockout for largely useless reasons is getting too far.
Mark Sanchez and the Jets are early favorites to be Super Bowl contenders. That goes hand in hand with their current media blitz on Hard Knocks. People though seem to have forgotten that Sanchez entered last season with a little more then a dozen games of college experience. Or that at one point last season Sanchez bottomed out with a 5 interception, 8.3% Passing rating game against Buffalo while the Jets went on a 1-6 skid. Actually the Jets were undefeated (5-0) when Sanchez had less then 20 attempts. Sanchez was anything but important to the Jets run, as just about any game manager could have led the Jets to the playoffs (unless the Colts don’t play Curtis Painter).
It’s never sexy to talk about a strong defense and a solid running game. That’s why Tom Brady is on the cover of every teen beat, while the average person has never heard of Michael Strahan. But it was Revis and the Jet’s D that got them into the playoffs and nearly into the Super Bowl. If the Jet’s are going to get back there again, even with the addition of Santonio Holmes and the training camp with Braylon Edwards, it’s going to be the defense. All the passing game is going to have to do is be just good enough so that teams can’t stack the box.
I’m sorry, but if you imagined Sanchez possibly having a career year for Jet’s QBs throwing to Holmes and Edwards, it’s not going to happen. Hopefully Little Schotty realizes this just as much and keeps to the running game. LaDamian Tomilison is already showing flashes of his former self behind a much better line. If Shohn Greene can continue his performance from the playoffs the Jets might once again have by far the best running game in the league. Run, Run, Run and Run some more. When teams start stacking the box, it’s time for screen passes to LDT or short passes to Holmes. Last year the Jet’s didn’t seem to have those options.
The other big thing people forget about Sanchez last year was that he wasn’t under pressure to do anything other then be a better QB then Clemens. Most people predicted a 5 or 6 win season from the Jets at most. Sanchez became a star so quickly (and despite a middling at best season) because Eli Manning is the black hole of charisma. There is no more boring human being on the planet then Eli Manning. And when the QB is considered the face of the Franchise, the media is going to love someone that shows personality.
So what do I expect from this team? All along I’ve felt like the Jets are going to be a 7-9 or 9-7 team. I think some of the moves the Jets made look good if you don’t consider the player is on the downside of his career. Or if you don’t consider why the player was a free agent (Nick Folk). I get the feeling that if Leon Hess still ran the team, he would have thrown every penny he had at the team to make sure they won during this uncapped season. I don’t think you would be seeing Alan Fanacea or Thomas Jones leaving the team. I think Mike Tannenbaum thinks he’s smarter then he is, and made too many “smart” moves over moves that would have made the team better.